Let PopSci’s best builds be your first 2020 projects

Few things are more satisfying than making something yourself.
a before and after photo of a messy kitchen utensil drawer and a drawer organized with a homemade DIY drawer organizer
My utensil drawer was somewhat of a mess (left), as my knives were too big for the plastic bins. Now that I've got my own drawer organizer (right), the space is being used much more efficiently and intelligently.

Give a DIYer some free time, and we’re going to make something out of it. We love getting our hands dirty and creating something of our own, whether it serves a practical purpose or is just plain fun. So if you’re looking for a project or two to kick off the new year with, take a gander below at our five favorite buildable projects of 2019:

Create a portable workspace by building your own folding saw horses

I was working on top of two garbage cans and a corrugated cardboard box in my garage before I built these foldable saw horses. They’ll provide a solid base for your work surface (though I do not recommend a cardboard box), and don’t take up much space when it’s time to stow them away. That matters when your workshop is also where your car lives.

How to build a motion-controlled fan

It might not be hot enough for a fan where you are right now, but you’ve got nothing to lose by starting the new year off ahead of schedule. Jeremy S. Cook found this Arduino-powered gadget useful in the sweltering Florida heat, and it’s convenient to not have to worry about turning an appliance on and off while you’re moving around.

Build your own drawer organizer

Messy drawers are no fun. Nobody likes to root around for what seems like hours for a specific spatula. The good news is that it’s not that hard to build a simple organizer you can slide into any drawer to keep it under control. I know where all my spoons are now, and I’m pretty sure that’s the American dream.

Make your own light-up holiday sweater

Ugly sweater parties bring out the worst in clothing design. If you’re not a fan of the store-bought, made-to-be-ugly garments and don’t have a well-meaning relative to make you one, try this project on for size. Follow Barry Abrams’ directions on how to embed an Arduino-powered string of LED lights into a fuzzy sweater, and you’ll truly get lit at whatever parties you attend.

Save space and money with this chop saw conversion project

This was probably the most difficult project I built for PopSci DIY this year, and it’s also potentially the most dangerous, so please heed the warnings in the story. Still, it was an extremely satisfying job to complete and useful for those who—like me—don’t have a lot of space for a full miter saw. Essentially, I built a jig that would let me convert my standard circular saw into a chop saw when necessary. It took a few tries (and several trips to the hardware store) to get right, but it cuts straight and is a solid addition to my workspace.